BEIRUT: The Maronite patriarch assisted Pope Francis during a Mass Wednesday at the Vatican and thanked the pontiff for his recent calls for peace in the Middle East.
Cardinal Beshara Rai was accompanied by a number of Maronite bishops and heads of monastic orders during the morning ceremony, according to the National News Agency.
At the conclusion of the Mass, Rai thanked Francis for his efforts to promote peace in the region, and also spoke about the dispersion of Maronites throughout the world.
Rai said that in June, a Maronite synod approved the establishment of two new dioceses, for Africa and Venezuela-Colombia, and expressed his hope the pontiff would formally endorse the move.
On Sept. 7, Pope Francis called for an international day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria and the Middle East.